Learning Concepts and Goals for First Grade
At Temple Beth Sholom Innovative School, the focus of our philosophy is anchored in emergent
learning — we value being responsive to children’s interests, thus creating meaningful learning
experiences. This way of teaching and planning of curriculum is developed in a collaborative,
child-centered, and developmentally appropriate way. Learning habits and academic milestones
are embedded and fostered. We believe that academic growth rests upon a positive foundation of
social and emotional development. Classroom community is developed and strengthened through
meetings and discussions — through such discourse, learners authentically witness, firsthand, the
value of multiple perspectives. We believe this not only enhances children’s understanding of
themselves as learners but also fosters their being flexible, empathetic, and active members of a
learning community. The goals of our academic program are to offer learners opportunities to:
solve problems, access information, think creatively, and present information to others.
Literacy: Reading, Writing and Word Study
Reading, writing, and word study skills and concepts are taught explicitly and practiced each day.
Using a balanced literacy model, learners will develop appropriate skills and strategies needed to
read, spell, and write texts of various genres and for different purposes. It is a goal for children to
feel that what they learn as readers and writers has meaningful and practical application in school
and beyond. We understand that first graders will arrive with a variety of skill levels in reading.
Through direct teaching and individual assessment, teachers learn about the strengths and needs
of each reader. Throughout the year, the learners are developing decoding skills, fluency,
comprehension strategies, and inferential thinking. In writing, they are learning to draft, revise,
edit ,and publish their work. Children share their stories, thoughts, and wonderings, enabling
them to develop their own voice as they grow as readers and writers. First graders develop
control of their letter formation through a handwriting program. Learners receive consistent word
study instruction to develop connections to sounds and letters involved in their reading, writing,
and spelling. In addition, first graders learn strategies for applying spelling patterns and core sight
words into the proofreading and editing of their written work.
Learners build on the work of composing and decomposing numbers to further support number
sense and develop strategies for understanding the basic principles of addition and subtraction.
To support these concepts, the curriculum incorporates math racks and number lines and
introduces ten-frames. Learners also learn to recognize place value by exploring how a digit’s
value depends on its position within a number. Geometry, measurement, and data are also
explored. Our curriculum urges learners to think mathematically by creating an environment
where students are doing, thinking, and talking about significant mathematics.”
Learners engage in deep studies around the social studies arc “Where We Live.” As learners
study our school neighborhood, Miami Beach, they develop many social skills, including problem
solving and collaboration. They are guided by the essential questions: “What is a neighborhood?
How does a neighborhood serve the people who live and work there?” Learners think deeply
about the needs and wants of community members. Through this process, learners connect to
and empathize with the things workers and families need. Learners use knowledge and
perspective as they uncover a need the community has, and then take constructive and
collaborative steps to work toward solutions. Learners feel empowered that their voice makes a
difference. Learners will partner with community members and visit places around Miami Beach
to enhance their experiences and understandings.
As learners create theories of understanding during studies around the arc “Where We Live,” they
experience how to observe and manipulate sound and light; study patterns and cycles of space systems;
gain an awareness of the structure and function of plants and animals (including humans); explore the
ocean; and learn about engineering and design. During the studies and playful inquiry opportunities,
learners are given the time and space to ask questions, plan and carry out investigations, and analyze
and interpret data based on their observations and questions.
The mission of our Spanish program is to instill a love of language from an early age. Our
program is designed to teach students vocabulary, grammar and basic language skills. Learners
communicate and appreciate the various cultures of the Spanish-speaking world with a focus on
ideas and conversations that stem from our emergent learning and studies. In learning Hebrew,
first graders practice writing and reading Hebrew letters and learn Hebrew words, especially
pertaining to the Jewish holidays.
Learners explore all of the Jewish holidays and traditional customs and symbols are reviewed
throughout the year. In addition, learners explore Jewish values that focus on themselves as
individuals, relationships with friends and family, and our community and the world at large.
Judaic studies are woven throughout the deep studies.
First graders learn the importance of warming up before exercising and cooling down by stretching
afterwards. In Starfit, learners focus on different ways to develop strength, flexibility, agility and
coordination. In addition to basic movements and drills learned in kindergarten, first graders incorporate
more intense cardiovascular exercises, including obstacle courses. In dance, children learn and create
dance movements with partners and in groups. In yoga, learners begin to trust their bodies and build
emotional and physical strength. At the JCC, first graders learn the rules and skill needed to play various
organized sports with a coach.
In music, first graders explore their world through listening, singing, moving, playing instruments, and
creating. As they develop basic skills, techniques, and processes in music, they strengthen their music
vocabulary and music literacy. Learners remember, focus on, process, play, and create together. This
stimulates the imagination, leads to innovation and creative risk-taking, and fosters the development of
important skills like teamwork, acceptance, respect, and responsibility.